DVCN - Domestic Violence Co-ordinators Network

Affected by Domestic Abuse?


Domestic abuse is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.

It is rarely a one-off incident and is often made up of different types of abuse within that one abusive relationship. Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, culture, religion or class. Domestic violence or abuse includes forced marriage, female genital mutilation and other acts of so called 'honour based' violence.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, there are lots of appropriate and confidential services that can help you. Whether you just want to see what your options are or you want to leave the situation, there are people there to help you and the information on this site will enable you to find out more.

If you know someone in danger and you want to help, then this site will give you information that you may feel you can pass on. But remember, do so safely.

Keeping Yourself Safe Online

If you are worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information.

The best way to be completely sure you are not being tracked online, is to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, friend's house or at work.

Abusers can look at the history of sites you've visited
As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail ('history') that reveals the sites you have visited. Below are instructions to minimise the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

Warning about deleting cookies and address histories
There is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. For instance, if your partner uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your partner will realise you've done so, because their password will no longer be saved.  Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.

How do I work out which browser I'm using?
If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using - you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.

Instructions on how to delete history & cache from your PC.

- Internet Explorer 6
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labelled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.

- Internet Explorer 7
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete button. Either select and Delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords; or select the Delete all button at the bottom to clear everything.

- Firefox 1  (NOT / Netscape)
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to History; Saved Form Information; Cookies and Cache. Firefox 2
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. At private data select settings, ensure that all boxes have been selected and then click on Clear Now.

- Netscape 7
Click on the Edit menu and select Preferences.  In the left pane, expand History then in the right area click Clear History.  Next, expand Privacy and Security and select Cookies then on the button Manage Stored Cookies and in the new dialog box click Remove All Cookies.  Then repeat similar for Forms and the Manage Stored Form Data button and the same for Passwords and the Manage Stored Passwords button.  Additionally, you may Manage Forms, Cookies and Passwords individually from the Tools menu - but not the temporary page Cache files.

- Opera
Click on Tools and then Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side. Click the Clear button to the right of Addresses and the Empty Now button to the right of Disk cache. Opera does not have an easy way to clear all Cookies.

- Safari (often used on Apple Macs)
Resetting Safari clears the history, empties the cache, clears the Downloads window, and removes all cookies. It also removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries. To do this go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen. Choose Reset Safari, and click Reset.

- Deleting your browsing history
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a 'history'. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www.strengthtochange.org.uk, right click and choose "Delete". For Safari, select History at top of the screen and choose "Clear History" Often browsers have a 'private' mode which means browsing history and passwords etc. are not stored on your computer – this setting is usually under the ‘Tools’ tab on the Internet page menu bar.

- Toolbars
Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose "Clear Search History".

Safety Planning

There are a number of things that you can to increase your own safety and the safety of your children, but do remember that perpetrators of domestic abuse can be volatile and dangerous so make sure that you have an exit strategy in place.

Here are some things you can do to try to increase your safety...

  • If an argument starts, try to position yourself near an exit and avoid rooms where you could be at higher risk such as the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Have emergency numbers and important contacts to hand where you can get to them easily.
  • If you have children, go through the exit routes with them at home in case of emergency and teach them how and when to use 999.
  • Pack an overnight bag and leave it with a friend or with family.
  • If you feel able, talk to a neighbour you trust and ask them to contact the police if they hear a disturbance in your home.
  • Make a plan in case you need to leave - where could you go, how will you get there, what do you need to take with you?

Exit Strategy

Choosing to leave is never an easy decision and in many cases people leave without the opportunity to plan what they will do. If you are able make plans for leaving, even if you feel this may not happen or that the abuse is not that serious - if you work on an exit strategy then you'll know what to do to keep yourself and your family safe should you need to.

Where will you go? Remember, there are refuge services that can help you if you can't or don't want to go to friends or family.

How will you get there? If you plan to go to a family member or friend, will you need money for transport?

If you are thinking about leaving here are some items that you should to take with you...

  • Money, Bankbooks, Credit Cards
  • Benefit Books
  • ID - Birth Certificates
  • Keys - House/Car/Office
  • Passports/Visas
  • Driving License and Registration documents
  • Medication
  • Mortgage documents/Rent book
  • Insurance documents
  • Address Book
  • Toiletries
  • Bottle, milk, nappies and favourite toys for kids
  • Spare clothes
  • Items of personal value


If you feel that you are in danger and need to leave then you can access refuge services to offer you a temporary solution and enable you (and your children) to leave immediately, giving you time to make future plans.

However, if you are living in a house where your partner is the owner or named tenant, or you are the joint owner or tenant (and either wish to remain in your home or to find alternative accommodation) then you can seek advice from various sources.

You can contact...

  • Your local housing department who can go through your options with you
  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Welfare Rights, or any of the domestic abuse services - each of which can advice you of local legal services available


A refuge is a safe house that can help you and your children to leave an abusive partner. There are over 500 refuge and support services in the country. You can choose to travel as far away from, or stay as near to, your home town as you wish (subject to safety, space and availability).

Refuge can provide you with emergency accommodation but also provide additional services such as support, advice and aftercare helping you to rebuild your life.

To access refuge services, you can contact the contact the Women's Aid/Refuge free helpline by calling 0808 2000 247.

These refuges are open to women suffering domestic abuse and their children.


If you choose to leave or decide to make some changes to your situation, there may be a number of issues that you will need to seek advice on. There are solicitors that specialise in the issues related to domestic abuse and family law.

You can...

  • Call one of the support organisations in your area who will be able to refer you to local specialist solicitors.
  • Contact the Community Legal Service for free advice if you qualify for legal aid - CLS national helpline 0845 345 4 345 for free advice.
  • But even if you do not qualify for legal aid you can still find advice on the CLS website that might be useful - such as local legal advisers and websites with information available - visit www.clsdirect.org.uk


If you are married or cohabiting and you choose to separate from an abusive partner, a solicitor who specialises in Family Law will be able to advise you on financial matters.

For more information on specialist solicitors that can help you call one of the support organisations in your area and they will be able to refer you to local solicitor.


There are many health implications to do with domestic abuse both associated with your physical health and your mental health. Domestic abuse affects victims physically and emotionally.

Whether you are visiting your GP on a regular check-up, having appointments with the Health Visitor, using a sexual health clinic due to sexual abuse within the relationship, engaging with the Mental Health services, or going to A & E due to injuries sustained - all of the professionals you encounter will know about domestic abuse and will not judge you or force you into any course of action should you disclose what is happening.

If you are concerned about your health and need immediate medical advice, contact your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.


Experiencing and witnessing domestic abuse at home can be really harmful to children living in that household.

It can affect them in many ways - for example, lack of progress at school, anti-social behaviour, self-esteem issues and feelings of guilt and helplessness.

Even if you think that you are protecting your children from harm because the abuse is focused on you, they are still aware of it and it is affecting them.

If your children want more information about domestic abuse, how to keep themselves safe and help dealing with their feelings, there is a national website aimed at children called "The Hideout" - visit www.thehideout.org.uk

...and many of the specialist services in your area may have children's workers and specialised support for children.

Are you abusive to a loved one?

Stop the hurt now...

Do you abuse a loved one verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually?

There are services that can help you stop and change.

Contacts include...

Respect 0808 802 4040 email info@respectphoneline.org.uk,
www.respectphoneline.org.uk - advice and information for perpetrators of domestic violence. Also details of programmes and support services for perpetrators.

Everyman Project 020 7263 8884 (London based), email everymanproject@btopenworld.com,www.everymanproject.co.uk - National helpline for everyone concerned about violence. Counselling service for violent men who want to change.

See the Links page for more services